The European landscape of listed biotech companies: 2018 review (Part 1)

1.3 New listings/IPOs and M&As in 2018

2018 saw only 10 new listings (Table 2), including 6 IPOs (Acacia, MedinCell, Polyphor, AlzeCure, Asarina, Calliditas), 2 listings following an M&A/reverse takeover operation (Oncology Venture from MPI, Okyo from a Cash Shell) and 2 listings without a public offering (Combigene in Stockholm and ObsEva, listed in Switzerland after floating on Nasdaq first). The most active place was Sweden with 5 new listings, followed by Switzerland (2). There was a single event in France, UK and Belgium.

Tab. 2. EU IPOs & new listings of European listed biotech companies in 2018 (our universe)

4 companies managed to list on Nasdaq in New York in 2018, of which 3 through an IPO process. The only significant amount raised was for Morphosys (Table 3).

Tab. 3. US IPOs (dual listing) of European listed biotech companies in 2018 (our universe)

On the M&A side (Table 4), it was a prolific year (from a European standpoint), with 5 companies who were acquired and subsequently de-listed: Tigenix (Belgium) acquired by Takeda, Ablynx (Belgium) acquired by Sanofi, Wilson Therapeutics (Sweden) acquired by Alexion, TxCell (France) acquired by Sangamo, and Vernalis (UK) by Ligand Pharmaceuticals. For the first 2 names, the takeovers came after a drug approval (Alofisel and Cablivi, respectively). For Wilson, the tender offer followed good data for WTX 101 now in a pivotal trial in Wilson disease. For the TxCell and Vernalis, it was different. Both companies were facing financial and/or business challenges, so they were opportunistically acquired by 2 US companies.

Finally, on a wider perimeter, concerning European listed “big pharma”/biopharma companies, Shire (Ireland) was acquired by Takeda for 52.5 bEUR (approximately 60% premium). Karo Pharma (Sweden) was acquired by a fund based in Luxembourg for 580 mEUR (premium about 25%). In 2017, Actelion (Switzerland - not covered) was acquired by Johnson & Johnson for 28.1 bEUR (premium around 77%). Also, in 2017, STADA Arzneimittel, a German pharma (not covered) was partially taken over by a consortium of funds. Another “tranche” of the company was furtherly acquired in 2018 and the company was de-listed early in 2019.